Friday, September 17, 2004

What we hold in common

Lately, my free (and not so "free") time has been spent reading various weblogs, emails, articles and other various pronouncements on issues ranging from a difficult reading of Ephesians 5 to the linguistical merits of Ebonics. This weblog world is a new one for me (see the disclaimer below), and I find myself at turns both overwhelmed by the enormity of this new world, and frustrated by the opinions that I read. The frustration stems from several things:
  1. I feel instinctively that the people expressing these opinions should be the very people that agree with me (sociologically, religiously, demographically, etc.), and I find myself mystified at why they do not. While I am used to being in the minority among strangers, it is unfamiliar territory among like-minded friends. (much more on this later...suffice it to say that my comments will likely include many references to the word hermeneutic, so stay tuned for some exciting intellectual pomposity).
  2. Because these people "should" agree with me, I feel not only pressured to articulate a reasoned defense about topics on which I am not an expert, but also that the "majority influence" of this environment intrinsically places the burden of proof upon me to reassert what is inevitably the "traditionalist" opinion.
  3. I think the majority do not always realize the pressure they are exerting, and likely don't intend to exert. Or maybe I exert all the pressure on myself, and it's my own damn fault. But it's hard to hear conclusions I consider misguided from the very people I lean on for support, and not feel the desire to step in and say something. This "us" vs. "them" mentality develops, and I feel like "we" are always on the defensive, and the only ones ever forced to retreat.
  4. There have been several times in the past where merely mentioning a position immediately gets me labeled a "chauvanistic judgmental bigot." These leaves me somewhat gunshy of even expressing an opinion.

This being said, I want to take a step back and reflect on how much we actually have in common. I'm not interested in provoking an argument, or even tendering a "debate. " I doubt you are either. I'm merely looking to join the dialog, and it is excellent to see so many intelligent people wrestling with such tough issues. I just wish I had a few more people "in my corner."

However, with a sense of compassion and fellowship, this kind of discourse can only build us all up. And, I hope it does exactly that. In fact, that's really all I want. So I intend to proceed with that mindset - that your opinions aren't meant to attack me, and that mine are likewise not meant to offend you. And I am really not a chauvanistic judgmental bigot...

So, if I seem harsh, or come across as abrasive (which is virtually guaranteed), just let me know. Chances are I'll ratchet down quickly, and usually I don't intend to come across like I do. Although, I wouldn't be me if I didn't send a few barbs now and then, and I expect nothing but the same from you. Grace & Peace...